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Bill would allow courtroom advocates for animals

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Animals in Florida would have their own advocates in courtrooms under a measure pending in the state Legislature.

Introduced on Sept. 14 by Sen. Jason Pizzo (D-North Miami Beach) and co-introduced by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation), SB 172 would allow the appointment of lawyers to advocate in the interest of animals in some courtroom proceedings.

Advocates would be chosen from a list of volunteer lawyers maintained by the Florida Bar’s Animal Law Section. They would appear at the discretion of the court.

Under the proposed bill, animal advocates would be allowed to monitor cases involving animals, have access to relevant files and other documents, collect information from law enforcement and animal control personnel, present information and make recommendations to the court.

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No one from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) was available to comment on the proposed legislation.

If SB 172 becomes law, Florida would become the fourth state to have such a law on the books behind Connecticut, Maine, and New Jersey.

Currently, SB 172 is under consideration in the Senate’s Judiciary, Agriculture and Rules committees.

If passed, it would go into effect on July 1.

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